“I marvel that ye are so soon removed FROM HIM that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. … But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace. TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME, that I might preach him among the heathen …” (Galatians 1:6, 15-16).
Philippians 3:7, But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ… That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:7-8, 10).
Over the past three posts we have emphasized the importance of Christ being pre-eminent in our lives and loving Christ passionately above EVERYONE and EVERYTHING [COL 1:16-18; Matthew 22:37-39].
We have seen that it is possible to BELIEVE THE RIGHT THINGS, DO THE RIGHT THINGS, and yes, t’s even possible to STAND FOR THE RIGHT THINGS, and yet, still be guilty of having left our first love. Our love for Christ [REV 2:1-5]!
We have also seen that God’s people often find themselves leaving God as their first love, their source of fulfillment and joy, and replacing Him with SOMEONE or SOMETHING [JER 2:13]
Was this not the problem with the believers in the churches of Galatia? Is this not often what we struggle with?
The Galatians were not simply drifting from the grace of God; they were drifting from the God of grace. They had left their first love and they were becoming entangled with, not only false teaching but a false sense of religiosity!
IF YOU HAVE BEEN A CHRISTIAN FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME YOU KNOW IT IS ALWAYS MUCH EASIER TO BE RELIGIOUS THAN TO CULTIVATE A GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS!
In the same manner, it is much easier to conform to someone’s opinion or some man-made tradition than it is to be conformed to the image of Christ, which, according to Paul, was God’s purpose for his life and ours.
Galatians 1:15-16, But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:15-16).”
Romans 8:28-29, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
In the passage from Galatians, it is interesting that Paul puts “revealing Christ” through his life (Christlikeness) even before preaching Christ to others!
It has often been said that there are two reasons that people don’t come to Christ or come to church.
- First of all, because they know a Christian
- Secondly, because they don’t know a Christian.
Yes, I know, that is a bit simplistic!
And yes, I believe there are other reasons folks don’t come to Christ or his church; such as they love their sin and want nothing to do with the Savior! Yet, at the same time, Paul’s words in Galatians 1:16 would seem to go hand-in-hand with these two stated reasons why folks don’t come to Christ or come to church.
Someone else has said, “Maybe the reason people today are drawn to Jesus but not his followers is because many Christians are NOT like Jesus …”
Something to think about right there!
If we aren’t humbly living, loving, and serving like Jesus it really doesn’t matter what we say, how long we say it, or how loudly we say it, people are interested. They came to Christ by the droves in the four Gospels, and there was a reason they did so. Most of us would have to admit that we don’t seem to see flocks coming our way by the droves, and in the same way, there’s bound to be a reason! 🙂
WE AREN’T LIKE JESUS!
People, whether saved or lost, don’t need to see me, they don’t need to see you, and they surely don’t need to see our “heroes” in us, they need to see Christ in us. This is the hope of glory!
Colossians 1:27, To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
It is when we allow our light, which is actually HIS LIFE, HIS LOVE, AND HIS LIGHT, shine in and through us, in this dark and decrepit world, that people see our good works, and God gets all the glory [Matthew 5:14-16]!
As one author noted:
So few recognize us as children of God because we do not resemble our Father. … The church is posturing itself farther and farther away from any positive influence in society, because it is deeply rooted in a moralistic crusade and quite comfortable shouting at the world from a distance. … We take stands, pass laws, and campaign against issues. Instead of changing the world with the power of love, we react to issues and take defensive postures and look as hateful as any faction in this growing divide.
We are not “straightforward about the truth of the gospel,” and everyone but us knows it. Most people can smell hypocrisy almost immediately, though proving it sometimes takes a bit longer. We must clean up our lives on the inside if we ever want people to desire what we have. Until then, we will see an ever-increasing apathy toward our message that will become outright hostile and unapologetically so. A Christianity that is only Christian in outward appearance has nothing but rot on the inside. When enough people are singing the same tune, all of Christianity is reduced to an empty shell without any real life within. Christianity without Christ is an awful thing!
Paul understood well, that people, more than anything else, need to see Christ in us. So here are a few questions to ponder:
- Am I becoming more like Christ?
- Am I more like Jesus today than I was last week?
- Am I more like Christ today than I was last year?
It means very little to say, “I attend church faithfully.” People could really care less. People aren’t really concerned about how we dress or how much Bible we know. They don’t need to see me and all of my accomplishments or accolades.
People need the Lord and they need to see Jesus!
“Thanks be to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which Thou hast given us; for all the pains and insults which Thou hast borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, may we know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly; for Thine own sake.” — Richard of Chichester